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CaixaBank Said to Prepare Bid for Civica as Spain Urges Mergers

CaixaBank SA, Spain’s fourth-biggest lender, is preparing a bid for Banca Civica SA, said a person familiar with the situation.

CaixaBank has been studying Banca Civica’s books as it readies an offer, said the person, who declined to elaborate on the bid and asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.

CaixaBank and Banca Civica said in regulatory filings on March 13 that they were studying plans to combine as part of an overhaul of the country’s financial industry. Spain’s government is encouraging more lenders to merge as it requires them to recognize deeper losses on real estate accumulated during the property crash.

El Pais newspaper reported today that a CaixaBank share exchange offer for Civica might value the lender below its existing share price. Civica shares fell as much as 8 percent today, and were down 16 cents, or 6.8 percent, to 2.21 euros by 2:12 p.m. in Madrid trading.

A spokesman for Barcelona-based CaixaBank, who asked not to be named in line with company policy, declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Madrid-based Civica wasn’t immediately available for comment when reached by phone today.

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